B.C. man with links to the UN gang busted in Thailand on drug charges
Khamla Wong arrested in Bangkok and charged with possession with the intent to sell 259 ecstasy pills
BY KIM BOLAN, VANCOUVER SUN MARCH 17, 2016
A mysterious Canadian with links to the United Nations gang has been arrested in Thailand on drug trafficking charges.
Khamla Wong, also known as Khamla Siharaj, is also accused in Canada of smuggling hundreds of kilograms of cocaine into B.C.
The 46-year-old has been on the run since 2012 when he was charged after a major investigation by the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit-B.C.
Wong was living in Abbotsford before he disappeared. At one time he owned a restaurant frequented by UN gang members in the Fraser Valley city.
Thai authorities confirmed Tuesday that Wong had been arrested with a Chinese national in Bangkok and charged with possession with the intent to sell 259 ecstasy pills.
Wong is also being investigated for fraud after he was found with a fake passport in the name of a Thai national.
Thai police said Wong has used the passport regularly since 2013 to travel in and out of Thailand.
CFSEU Staff Sgt. Lindsey Houghton said Wong will have to deal with his Thai charges before Canada can prosecute him.
“We are aware the Thai police have located Khamla Wong and have arrested him on what appears to be a local drug-related investigation,” Houghton said Thursday. “So now we are in talks with the Department of Justice. Whatever happens to Khamla in the Thai courts, that’s got to be resolved before any action is taken between our respective governments.”
Thailand has notoriously harsh sentences for drug trafficking — up to life in prison or even the death penalty.
“From what I’ve read, that is the potential penalty for a drug trafficker in Thailand,” Houghton said.
In Canada, Wong faces one count of conspiracy to traffic 121 kilograms of cocaine, another count of conspiracy to import 97 kilograms of cocaine and one count of possession of a firearm.
He was born Khamla Siharaj in Laos before immigrating to Canada and legally changing his name to Wong.
He became a Canadian citizen, but as a result of his outstanding Canada-wide arrest warrant and the Interpol Blue Notice, Passport Canada revoked his Canadian passport.
Justice Dept. media officer Andrew Gowing confirmed there is an extradition treaty between Canada and Thailand.
“Due to the confidential nature of state-to-state communication, the government can neither confirm nor deny whether an extradition request has been made related to Mr. Wong,” Gowing said in an email.
Before Wong’s arrest, Canadian authorities believed he was hiding with his wife and young Canadian children in either Europe or Asia.
“Wong speaks many Asian languages, along with English. He has already changed his name at least once, as has his wife, and this, along with his language skills, is likely making his ability to move around Asia — where we believe he has spent much of his time — and escape the police much easier,” Houghton said earlier.
He also told The Sun that Wong was “extremely savvy to police techniques and counter-surveillance, but we believe that he has also made many enemies in the criminal world.”
Wong’s co-accused in Canada have received stiff sentences. Last year, Jeremy Albert Stark got 13 years and Christopher Lloyd Mehan was sentenced to 10 for their roles in the international drug ring. Another accused, Robert Charles Arthur, received a three-year sentence in January.
The B.C. men were snared in the investigation started by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Los Angeles in 2008. The DEA used a confidential informant to distribute encrypted BlackBerry devices to members of the drug gang in both Canada and the U.S., including Stark, Mehan and Wong.
The BlackBerrys used a server inside a DEA office, allowing agents to read all the messages about drug deliveries and money drop-offs. U.S. agents sent information to CFSEU, which began its own investigation.
The co-ordinated effort led to 218 kilograms of cocaine being seized in two large shipments smuggled through the Pacific border crossing inside commercial trucks in December 2008.
UN gang members and associates have turned up in several countries.